In one of my earlier blogs , I had mentioned that India alone needs one and a half times the energy currently consumed by entire world, if India were to be a nation as developed as USA.
The living standards of a developed nation like USA is completely dependent on the availability of energy for all the necessities and luxuries that a developed society offers.
Now how on earth can we get such a huge amount of energy ? Already we are running out of resources like petroleum, nuclear options are dangerous and also very soon we will run out of nuclear fuels, nuclear materials are controlled by a few countries of the world, if we dont create fast breeder reactors using thorium then we have little nuclear fuel left, what about pollution? nuclear wastes?
For the whole world to live like a developed nation the amount of energy required is about 8 times the energy that the world produces currently. But how?
Only feasible non polluting long term solution seems to be our true energy provider, SUN
To harness energy from Sun, we need to install solar panels, but how on earth?
Problem #1 is Land for solar panels: Dedicated land for solar panels is not feasible. There might be cloudy days. Land will be wasted and not available for other purpose.
Problem #2 is Storage: Suppose we distribute solar panels across the globe. On top of all buildings, vehicles and what not. We cant touch the forests though. Now how do we collect the power generated from all these places and store ? It will become a infrastructure problem. Again not really feasible. Say suppose we want to store power enough for the entire world for next 6 months.
Problem #3 Weather: All days are not sunny days. There are cloudy days, there are rainy days, and there are days which are not either and still not sunny.
Problem #4, Night: Only half of earth will be working at a time. Part of earth on the night side cannot harness solar energy.
More than anything else, when the entire world becomes a developed society, power requirements will be so dynamic and high that most of the stored power will be consumed almost immediately, and we cannot afford more storage space too as world population increases. Also we dont want to risk lives by having massive power storage grids.
Then the solution ? I always love to look at outer space ;)>There lies the solution
Millions of solar panels and power storage units floating in outer space. . Solar energy is captured from the sun to generate power and the power is transmitted to local storage units spread all over the earth on demand in the form of direct contact lightning strikes to ground based storage units for immediate consumption. Of course normal clouds on earth which cause lightening are at a quite lower altitude on earth compared to sending electricity from space, so we need to have intermediary receivers at different levels. Probably we may have a local backup of few days for the entire planet in case the space infrastructure fails.
Fault tolerance is required for these space based solar panels. There will be constant wear and tear. Meteorites might break down the panels and grids. Asteroids might hit. Comets might interfere. So we need to have propulsion based computer guided systems in all these free floating power generators in space which move around in a flexible manner in response to projectile threats in the space.
There should be on site robots which constantly repair all those worn and torn panels and grids. All the storage will be in space and energy as required is pumped down to earth. No wastage of space as long as we rely on outer space. In fact in the future we can move out all the manufacturing industries and factories to outer space. Use locally available resources as much as possible in outer space like solar energy, hydrogen, mineral ores from asteroids, etc and have the entire setup run by robots.
Well we might have the contemporary science fiction movies then which would have a plot where aliens try to steal power from our grids ! or say they install their own robots in our space based power generation units to take over the entire system !
Also since power is available in space, our future interplanetary, interstellar or intergalactic missions which take off from earth need not carry the complete power payload from earth itself, instead they can carry the bear minimum energy required for a take off to get out of earth’s gravity and then recharge themselves later with enough power at these space based power grids OR we can have all take offs for space travel from the space stations built somewhere near these power grids!
We can even have these solar panels and power grids at all the planets in our solar system and on prominent asteroids for consumptions by human/robotic missions which arrive to these places.
These were my thoughts that started with a requirement for a reliable energy resource for a developed world and later increased to scope to include space based factories, industries, space travel.
Always use the word “impossible” with great caution ;)